Meet the Candidates: No Fireworks
by Buz Whelan
On Saturday, August 4th, candidates Bob Leon, Alex Leslie, Joe Miller and Margaret Fitzgerald sat for questioning from 10:03 am until 12:15 pm before an audience of approximately 50 of their neighbors in the bingo room of the Community Center.
If there was one characteristic that dominated the session it would have to be the absolute lack of rancor or disagreement among the hopefuls. In question after question, their answers essentially mimicked one another, the respondent often beginning his/her answer with the phrase, “I agree with..” followed by a reference to a previous response. They all agreed that teamwork and communication are good things. They all believe the Emerald Bar & Grill is an important amenity and should be kept open. They all like the new tile floor. They also agree that the board should try to get young people more involved in community life. And to a question regarding their potential response to losing the election each gave a variation on offering to continue to help the board and the association. There will be no sore loser here, if you believe the answers.
So were there any distinctions at all? Yes. To the question, “Should the board control the content of the association newspaper,” Margaret Fitzgerald said she preferred a newsletter that mainly gave information on what events were taking place. Alex felt strongly that the GM, under the watchful eye of the board, should decide what members read. Bob Leon seemed to avoid the question, saying newspapers were a dead issue, soon to go the way of the dinosaur. He believes the focus should be on electronic distribution of information. Only Joe Miller took a clearly contrarian view, saying he believed the previous arrangement with the Communications Committee making the editorial decisions was his preferred situation and that the membership deserved to know all that was going on, whether positive or negative.
On a question of whether emphasis should be on new paving or repair of currently paved roads there seemed to be some differences. Alex Leslie emphatically stated that we could not afford new paving. Joe Miller agreed saying that with our limited funds we should focus on keeping the paved roads we have in better shape. Bob Leon suggested we do some of each, though he did not offer an opinion on how to decide how much of each. Margaret Fitzgerald stated that she had heard promises of road paving year after year, often as part of five year plans, but still many roads go unpaved. She said she has hopes that a new 5 year plan might change that, and added that much of the damage done to roads is caused by school buses, and perhaps we should find a way to make them pay. The problem with that argument is that we lobbied for the buses to come into the community. The school district would be happy to pick up children at one or two stops on the edges of Emerald Lakes rather than have to pick up at the thirteen stops we sought.
Some of the questions were head-scratchers. One such was, “If elected, how would you protect the association’s reputation?” asked as if a directorship was a PR position. The candidates stumbled around this one, as if searching for some meaning in it. Bob Leon suggested that teamwork would do the trick, along with “using the lawyer.” Margaret Fitzgerald averred that the way was to “Be truthful. Don’t Lie.” Alex Leslie said he would use his common sense, keep confidential matters confidential, and further said, “You must know boundaries.” According to Joe Miller the method would be to “respect the chain-of-command and run the community as a business in the most efficient way possible.”
Another odd question involved private pools. Obviously perplexed the candidates all sought clarification. Was there a problem? What kind of pools specifically? Were we talking about all pools, in-ground as well as above ground and even the blow-up type? Alex mustered that pools are an attractive nuisance that must be fenced, but also that he was not in favor of them. He feels members should use the beaches and pools of the association. Joe Miller rattled off the specific height needed for fencing, but agreed with Al that members should use amenities. Margaret asked for more clarification before stating, “Well, I have a pool.” She went on to say that she complies with all safety regulations and the decision was and should be a personal preference. Bob Leon caused some laughter in the room with his unusually detailed knowledge of area personal pools. “If you Google Emerald Lakes,” he began and then went on to describe how many and just where in-ground pools were. He startled candidate Fitzgerald by describing her pool as in the backyard and not visible from the road. Judging by Fitzgerald’s reaction, the description was dead on. Leon ended his remarks on the subject by saying he believes in, “Live and let live.”
One curious and noticeable absence was that of the board secretary. Controversial Judge of Elections Carmen Broadnax was a no-show. There is no official requirement for the presence of the Judge of Elections at the Meet the Candidates event, but it is a rare break with tradition to fail to make an appearance.